After two thrilling seven-game series wrapped up this week, the NBA Conference Final matchups are set in both conferences and only four teams are left standing in the Orlando bubble.
Two of the season’s top teams, along with two underdogs who advanced to the Finals in surprising fashion, will meet up with a chance to play for the coveted championship trophy in what should be a thrilling pair of matchups.
Let’s take a look at each one and predict a winner.
Eastern Conference Finals: Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics
The Heat got off to an early 1-0 lead in this series, whose Game 1 took place before the publication of this article. The Boston Celtics, who are considered to be the favorite in this matchup, will now have to win 4 of the next 6 games to advance to their first NBA Finals since 2010.
Boston has a dynamic squad lead by a superstar scoring trio of Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown. Despite their relative lack of punch on the low block, this team can score with the best of them and plays solid defense. But will it be enough to beat the inspired Heat?
Miami, considered to be an afterthought in the Eastern Conference picture, has been led by inspired performances from Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic, with Bam Adebayo emerging as one of the top youngsters in the league.
While the Heat did jump out to an early advantage with a three-point overtime win in Game 1, I like the Celtics to come back and win the series, seeing coach Brad Stevens take them to their first NBA Finals in his tenure.
Prediction: Celtics in 7
Western Conference Finals: Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers
No one expected the Nuggets to be just one series away from reaching the NBA Finals after they stormed back from a 3-1 deficit in their first round matchup with the Jazz, and after meeting up with the heavy favorite Los Angeles Clippers in the conference semifinals.
However, after a dominant Game 7 performance which saw the Nuggets overwhelm Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler with a gargantuan defensive effort, they are now one more LA team away from reaching the Finals for the first time in the franchise’s history.
They won’t have it easy, however, as the conference’s top seed and the league’s best collection of talent awaits them in the Western Conference Finals. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and company are hungry and have only dropped two games so far in this playoff run.
It’s certainly true that seeing the Nuggets topple yet another heavy favorite would be a thrilling story, but I just don’t think they have the talent to overcome Los Angeles’s star-studded squad.
Prediction: Lakers in 5